The Listening Post

Jul 05 2020 18 mins 14.7k

A weekly programme that examines and dissects the world's media, how they operate and the stories they cover.





Framing the self: The rise of the bookshelf aesthetic | The Listening Post (Feature)
Jul 05 2020 9 mins  
As the coronavirus has caused TV channels to cut back on in-studio interviews, pundits and politicians - and the rest - have been left to their own devices on how best to frame themselves in their "natural environments". Enter the bookshelf - seemingly the perfect solution. Not only does it texturise the background behind a talking head, but it gives off the impression that the person is full of bookish knowledge. "A lot of people actually work in studies and have home studies - often they're situated in environments that actually are full of books," says Tamar Garb, professor of art history at University College London. "But at the same time, you can also see when a background has been really contrived." After all, selecting your bookshelf backdrop is an exercise in self-branding - presenting selective aspects of yourself before you have said a word. "There are all kinds of pundits who want to signal their authority by displaying very big historical books," says Hussein Kesvani, a journalist who writes about online culture, adding that French economist Thomas Piketty's tome Capital and the Russian novel War and Peace are two intellectual heavyweights that he has frequently noticed in backgrounds. Bookshelves as backgrounds - and as a marker of authority - date back to the late 19th century when European portrait artists started to paint their subjects engulfed by books, says Professor Garb. "This was the moment of the emergence of the writer and critic as an independent professional in the context of the growth of [the] publishing [industry]." In 1879, French impressionist Edgar Degas painted the critic Edmund Duranty completely engulfed by books and in 1868, Edouard Manet, another French painter, did a portrait of the writer Emile Zola sat beside a table piled with books. Jim al-Khalili, British physics professor and broadcaster, has been doing all of his work from his home study and conducts his Zoom webinars and TV interviews in front of his bookshelf. Almost all of the books behind him are his own, which, he says, was unintentional. "These books behind me are the hidden away books in my study" as opposed to the library downstairs, al-Khalili said. "It just so happens that now that I'm doing interviews they're even more public than the ones downstairs so I've made a mistake there." Whether contrived or not, intentional or unintentional, the proliferation of book-flaunting has led to a new genre of media critique: bookshelf analysis. As media guests let us into their personal spaces, audiences - many who have more time on their hands and need some light-hearted distraction - are weighing in. Twitter accounts set up during lockdown have amassed thousands of followers and are wryly analysing bookshelves and their owners based on the mess, the organisation, the colour schemes and the books themselves. As Kesvani told us, "It's an immediately relatable concept and it's a concept that is quite fun, considering that the reasons we are currently all indoors is very grim." The Listening Post's Flo Philips reports on how the bookshelf became the ideal backdrop, for producers, presenters and pundits alike. Contributors: Tamar Garb - professor of art history, UCL Bernie Hogan - senior research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute Hussein Kesvani - culture and technology journalist Alex Christofi - editorial director, Transworld Books


The Great Facebook Boycott: Will it make any difference? | The Listening Post (Full)
Jul 04 2020 26 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: Big brands are part of an advertising boycott against Facebook over racist content and hate speech. Plus, lockdown TV puts bookshelves in the spotlight. The Great Facebook Boycott: Will it make any difference? The two biggest news stories of 2020 - the coronavirus pandemic and the racial inequality protests - have triggered what the United Nations calls a "tsunami" of hate speech - a surge in xenophobia online. The social media platforms involved now find themselves the focus of an advertising boycott - a campaign called "Stop Hate for Profit" - that is designed to get them to clean up their act, by hitting them where it hurts. The primary target has been Facebook. For years, Mark Zuckerberg and company have resisted demands to take a more active approach - a harder line - to moderating hateful content. Ninety-nine percent of Facebook's revenue - $70bn last year - reportedly comes from advertising. However, given Facebook's size, the boycott is unlikely to seriously damage its bottom line, at least in the short term. Contributors: Shoshana Wodinsky - enterprise reporter, Gizmodo Nadine Strossen - professor, New York Law School and former president, ACLU Jessica Gonzalez - Stop Hate for Profit campaign and co-CEO, Free Press Sarah Roberts - Center for Critical Inquiry, UCLA and author, Behind the Screen On our radar Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Johanna Hoes about China's new national security law for Hong Kong and its implications for the media; plus, the Iranian journalist sentenced to death simply for doing his job. Framing the self: The rise of the bookshelf aesthetic With the pandemic forcing so many of us to work from home, all kinds of talking heads - news anchors, interviewees, pundits and politicians - have had to redefine their "natural environments". So you have been seeing a lot of bookshelves. They are the perfect solution. They provide a little visual texture - they do not distract - and they create the impression, true or not, that the talking head has actually read the books, maybe even written some of them. Creating a backdrop is an exercise in self-branding - it sends a message and speaks to your alleged credibility before you say a word. And this book-flaunting has led to a new genre of media critique: bookshelf analysis. The Listening Post's Flo Phillips reports on judging a person by their bookish backdrop. Contributors: Tamar Garb - professor of art history, UCL Bernie Hogan - senior research fellow, Oxford Internet Institute Hussein Kesvani - culture and technology journalist Alex Christofi - editorial director, Transworld Books - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Ertugrul: Turkish TV's Ottoman phenomenon goes global | The Listening Post (Feature)
Jun 28 2020 8 mins  
Every nation has a trove of stories - alluring, magnetic narratives that are retold time and again. In Turkey, over the past decade or so, Ottoman history - the opulence, conquests and power - has been one of the most popular storylines across media, especially on TV. "The recent interest in Ottoman stories and Ottoman narratives is not something out of air or without context - it has a historical background," Burak Ozcetin, Associate Professor at Istanbul Bilgi University told The Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi. "Turkey is a society in constant change, constant flux. In times of crisis especially, history plays a significant role in creation of identities. The rising interest in the Ottoman past in terms of TV dramas has been a really, really important phenomenon." The demand for Ottoman stories on TV has gone far beyond Turkey. With five seasons, more than 400 episodes and hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide, Dirilis: Ertugrul, or Resurrection: Ertugrul, is one of Turkey's biggest television exports yet, and has helped put Turkey among the top exporters of TV content in the world. Set in the 13th century during the founding of the Ottoman empire, the show has helped launch a wave of nostalgia and fascination for the era that has become known as "Neo-Ottoman Cool". "'Neo-Ottoman Cool' is a term that I and my colleague Marwan Kraidy coined to reflect that new image of Turkey that started perhaps around 15 years ago," says Omar Al-Ghazzi, Assistant Professor at London School of Economics and co-author of the academic article Neo-Ottoman Cool: Turkish Popular Culture in the Arab Public Sphere. "It demonstrated that shift of perception from Turkey as an enemy to Turkey as a model ... Turkish soft power was perhaps at its height with the rise of President Erdogan - this went hand-in-hand with the popularity of Turkish popular culture, particularly Turkish TV series." "Dirilis: Ertugrul being popular specifically in the Middle East and the Muslim world is fascinating," says Senem Cevik, Lecturer in International Studies at UC Irvine. "A show that is produced by a Muslim country, a Muslim regional power is very important, and having those characters in the shows that are powerful, strong, defenders of their nations and their tribes is something I think I would say the Muslim world is looking for." For President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AK Party, reconnecting with the Ottoman era has been central to their messaging. Erdogan has pushed a notion of continuity from the Ottoman sultans through to himself and TV dramas such as Dirilis: Ertugrul and Payitaht: Abdulhamid - both commissioned by Turkey's state broadcaster TRT - have aligned nicely with the AK Party's communications strategy. "They are, in a way, rewriting the Ottoman history for the current Turkish public. They're trying to showcase a type of history that is continuous from the Ottoman Empire to the current Turkish republic in a way that it elevates the Ottoman history," says Ozcetin. "'Neo-Ottoman Cool' is directly related with the Turkish Republic's quest for enlarging its sphere of influence in the region, both politically, economically and culturally." Contributors: Burak Ozcetin - Associate Professor, Istanbul Bilgi University Senem Cevik - Lecturer in International Studies, UC Irvine Omar Al-Ghazzi - Assistant Professor, LSE and Co-author, Neo-Ottoman Cool: Turkish Popular Culture in the Arab Public Sphere - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/



Sino-Indian clash: Disputed border, divided media | The Listening Post (Full)
Jun 27 2020 24 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: Chinese and Indian media take opposite tacks to reporting the deadly clash between troops along the border. Plus, Turkish TV dramas and "neo-Ottoman cool". Sino-Indian clash: Disputed border, divided media The two most populous countries in the world, China and India, are dealing with the fallout of their first deadly border clash in almost half a century. Twenty Indian soldiers were reportedly killed, some clubbed to death, by Chinese forces. We know practically nothing else about the story - that is because the confrontation took place in the middle of nowhere at an altitude of 14,000 feet (about 4,300 metres), on a Himalayan mountain that journalists cannot get to, and because the two governments are saying very little. Indian media are speculating, calling for boycotts, and urging their politicians to wage an economic war against China. On the other side, the coverage is almost non-existent. This is a story about narratives - two governments that, in their own ways, are out to keep a lid on this conflict before it gets out of hand. Contributors: Natasha Badhwar - Author, filmmaker and contributing writer, Tribune India Aadil Brar - Journalist Kapil Komireddi - Journalist and author, Malevolent Republic: A Short History of the New India Steve Tsang - Director, SOAS China Institute On our radar Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Flo Phillips about Stop Hate for Profit - a new campaign encouraging big-name brands to pull their ads from Facebook over the company's failure to remove hate speech from its platform. Ertugrul: Turkish TV's Ottoman phenomenon goes global Dirilis: Ertugrul (or Resurrection: Ertugrul) is one of Turkey's biggest television exports yet, and has helped cement Turkey among the top exporters of TV content in the world. It is an historical epic set in the 13th century during the founding of the Ottoman empire; with five seasons, more than 400 episodes, and hundreds of millions of viewers worldwide, Dirilis: Ertugrul cashes in on a wave of nostalgia and fascination for an era that has become known as "Neo-Ottoman Cool". But given the topic, the time period and current geo-political events, there is a propagandistic feel to the show and others like it - one that plays right into the hands of Turkey's governing party, the AK Party, and President Erdogan's own brand of Turkish nationalism. The Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi reports on how history, politics and entertainment collide in Turkey's Ottoman TV epics. Feature contributors: Burak Ozcetin - Associate Professor, Istanbul Bilgi University Senem Cevik - Lecturer in International Studies, UC Irvine Omar Al-Ghazzi - Assistant Professor, London School of Economics and Co-author, Neo-Ottoman Cool: Turkish Popular Culture in the Arab Public Sphere - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Belarusian bloggers: Breaking the media mould | The Listening Post (Feature)
Jun 21 2020 9 mins  
While governments across the globe were ordering citizens to stay home in the fight against COVID-19, Belarus's longtime leader, Alexander Lukashenko, was telling Belarusians to get on with life as normal. As one of Europe's last leaders to recognise that the virus exists - let alone kills - the strongman has ignored calls for lockdown measures, suggesting vodka, sauna treatments or tractor rides instead. But Belarusians know that infection rates keep rising, and that the death toll continues to climb. Not because they have heard it from their mainstream media - which was brought to heel long ago - but because they have found a new source of information: a group of bloggers that are telling the COVID-19 story the way it really is. "Due to censorship, Belarusians are extremely limited when it comes to accessing accurate information, especially from state institutions. During this pandemic, they are providing statistics that don't accurately reflect the number of deaths and infections. In this context, it's extremely important to have access to alternative sources of news, and that's why bloggers are so popular," Katerina Andreeva, a reporter for Belsat TV, told The Listening Post. Stepan Svyatlou - better known as NEXTA - is Belarus's most famous blogger. Videos and posts on his YouTube and Telegram channels regularly generate more than a million views. The past few months, he has focused on Lukashenko's mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis. But his efforts to hold those in power to account stretch far beyond this pandemic. "I cover crimes committed by officials and civil servants. I try to publish what isn't being printed by the state newspapers, or aired by the state broadcasters. We publish documents that are leaked to us by government insiders - information that discredits the authorities and lowers their ratings," says Svyatlou. The popularity of bloggers like NEXTA is making Lukashenko increasingly nervous, not least because their followers have started to mobilise on the streets. And with the presidential election just a couple of months away, that is the kind of dissent Lukashenko can do without. Andrei Bastunets, chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, explains that "the authorities have come to understand that blogs like Stepan Svyatlou's NEXTA, or Sergei Tikhanouski's Country for Life, don't just spread information, but the bloggers themselves are becoming the centre of attention, and they can actually influence politics, not just talk about it." The Listening Post's Johanna Hoes reports on Belarusian bloggers, and their efforts to bring about political change that is long overdue. Feature Contributors: Stepan Svyatlou - Founder, NEXTA Andrei Bastunets - Chair, Belarusian Association of Journalists Katerina Andreeva - Reporter, Belsat TV - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


COVID-19 in Russia: Fake News and Forced Confessions | The Listening Post (Full)
Jun 20 2020 26 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: The selective application of a "fake news" law in Russia leaves journalists and citizens vulnerable. Plus, bloggers in Belarus take on the role of journalists. COVID-19 in Russia: Fake News and Forced Confessions Russia is currently in third place in the list of countries with the most confirmed coronavirus cases. The official figure exceeds half a million. But that is in dispute as is the country's fatality rate which, last month, was seven times below the global average. Truth is a casualty of the coronavirus war and the Kremlin itself is trying to get a grip on a glut of conspiracy theories and fake news about COVID-19 that gets shared online and then seeps into mainstream reporting. On April 1, the government equipped itself for the job. President Vladimir Putin hastily signed off on legal changes that enable the authorities to go after those they accuse of spreading fake news. Which, when you examine some of the sketchy COVID-related data being produced by the Russian government, is a little rich. Contributors: Liliya Yapparova - Investigative Journalist, Meduza Vlad Strukov - Professor, University of Leeds Precious Chatterje-Doody - Lecturer, Open University Sarkis Darbinyan - Chief Legal Officer, Roskomsvoboda On our radar Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Meenakshi Ravi about the six-year prison sentence Filipino journalist Maria Ressa now faces, and; the way Chinese and Indian media have covered clashes at the Sino-Indian border. Belarusian bloggers: Breaking the media mould What do you do if you are from Belarus and want to learn about the pandemic? You have a president, Alexander Lukashenko, who has long refused to accept the existence of COVID-19, let alone that it was killing people. Your mainstream news outlets are no good to you - the president brought them to heel long ago and they are telling people to get on with life as normal. So you go online - YouTube, Telegram - where bloggers are doing the job of journalists. Engaging young audiences, giving them the data they need right now and making President Lukashenko nervous, since he has an election coming up. The Listening Post's Johanna Hoes reports on Belarus's bloggers, the kind of work they do and the impact they are having in a country where political change has been a long time in coming. Contributors: Stepan Svyatlou - Founder, NEXTA Andrei Bastunets - Chair, Belarusian Association of Journalists Ekaterina Andreeva - Reporter, Belsat TV - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Felicien Kabuga: The man behind Rwanda's hate media | The Listening Post (Feature)
Jun 14 2020 9 mins  
After 26 years on the run, Felicien Kabuga - the man accused of being one of the key figures behind Rwanda's genocide - was arrested in Paris on May 16, 2020. A French court has ruled that he will be sent to Arusha, Tanzania to be tried in the United Nations' International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. He has been indicted on two counts of crimes against humanity and seven counts of genocide, including "the direct and public incitement to commit genocide". That count relates to his part in setting up and funding Radio Mille Collines, or RTLM, Rwanda’s infamous radio station that played a key role in the genocide. RTLM started broadcasting in August 1993. As president of the station, Kabuga oversaw RTLM’s editorial agenda - an agenda that, from the outset, called for Rwanda’s majority Hutu population to “exterminate” the minority Tutsis. “It was a radio station run by genocide ideologues and all day long it was used to insult and demonise Tutsis, to say that they were a cancer,” recalls Jean-Pierre Sagahutu, a Tutsi who told The Listening Post’s Nicholas Muirhead that he survived the genocide by hiding in a septic tank for two months and 15 days. From the outset, one of RTLM’s key objectives was to radicalise the Hutu youth - they would come to be relied upon to carry out most of the killings. As a new station on the Rwandan airwaves, RTLM needed to recruit listeners and the strategy Kabuga and his co-founders put in place was to play popular music to attract the young. The songs would then be interspersed with hate messages about the Tutsis. Tom Ndahiro is a Rwandan academic and expert on the genocide. He says that the music - which often contained lyrics of Hutu extremism - served a dual purpose because when the killings began, RTLM would continue playing the songs as a way of alleviating the perpetrators’ guilt. “It's evil genius, how do you entertain killers as a way of taking away the guilt? This is what RTLM did,” says Ndahiro. RTLM also helped to coordinate the killings. Catherine Bond was one of the few international journalists in Rwanda during the early stages of the genocide. After joining a convoy of French troops travelling into the centre of Kigali, she witnessed groups of Rwandans lining the streets. They had been called out of their houses by RTLM to greet the French troops - but it was all a ploy. “People had come out of their houses who were Tutsis in hiding,” remembers Bond, “and the Hutu militiamen had been able to identify them and had moved in and killed them.” The genocide lasted 100 days, claiming the lives of nearly one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Kabuga, along with many of the perpetrators, was able to flee Rwanda. He managed to disappear from public life, however his legacy - and the legacy of RTLM - would spread across the region. Multiple governments have since raised the spectre of Rwanda - and the hate messages broadcast on Radio Mille Collines - as justification to clamp down on media freedom in their own countries. History has already judged Felicien Kabuga. Now the courts will do the same. Contributors: Jean-Pierre Sagahutu - Genocide survivor Catherine Bond - Former journalist Tom Ndahiro - Genocide scholar - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Monuments of history or bigotry? The politics of statues | The Listening Post (Full)
Jun 13 2020 26 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: Should historic statues remain standing even if they celebrate racism and violence? Plus, the mastermind behind Rwanda's hate-spewing radio station is caught. Monuments of history or bigotry? The politics of statues The police killing of George Floyd, a Black American, and the weeks of protests that followed in the United States have sent ripples across the Atlantic. The defining image of the demonstrations in the UK has been the toppling of a statue in the port city of Bristol; a monument to Edward Colston, a slave trader whose wealth helped build the city. Colston's fall has offended those who say you cannot erase the past and that those who profited from slavery should not be judged by today's moral standards. Tell that to the thousands of British demonstrators, not just people of colour, who are out to tell the real story about Britain's role in the formation of the slave trade - the legacy of which spans the globe. Contributors: Maya Goodfellow - Author, Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats Adam Elliot-Cooper - Research Associate, University of Greenwich Priyamvada Gopal - Author, Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent Kadian Pow - Lecturer, Birmingham City University On our radar: Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Flo Phillips about a racist cartoon put out by the Japanese public broadcaster, NHK; and the US broadcasters reconsidering what television shows are appropriate viewing. Felicien Kabuga: The man behind Rwanda's hate media While the media have been preoccupied with the pandemic, some important news stories have gone under-reported. One of those stories took place on May 16: the arrest, in France, of a man named Felicien Kabuga. Kabuga is accused of being a key figure behind the 1994 genocide in Rwanda which claimed the lives of about one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Kabuga set up and funded Radio Mille Collines, a station that now lives in infamy. RTLM, as it was known, laid the groundwork for the genocide with its incessant stigmatisation of the Tutsis and went on to play a key role in coordinating the killings. The Listening Post's Nic Muirhead tells the story of Felicien Kabuga and the hate media of Rwanda's genocide. Contributors: Jean-Pierre Sagahutu - Genocide survivor Catherine Bond - Former journalist Tom Ndahiro - Genocide scholar - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Caught on camera: Police brutality and racism in Trump's America | The Listening Post (Full)
Jun 08 2020 26 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: How the video of a Black man's murder set the United States ablaze. Plus, drone investigations from on high. Caught on camera: Police brutality and racism in Trump's America Racially charged social unrest has been sweeping America on a scale not seen in decades. Showdowns are taking place in city after city between demonstrators and police, as authoritarian noises and tactics come from the Trump White House. From the phone camera that captured the police killing of George Floyd, to Twitter flagging how dangerous the president's tweets can be, to all those videos showing police attacking journalists and then finally to the lengths that the White House will go to to get a photo opportunity - there is no shortage of media angles to this story. Contributors: Siva Vaidhyanathan - Author, Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy Meredith Clark - Assistant Professor in Media Studies, University of Virginia Tiffany Cross - Author, Say It Louder! Black Voters, White Narratives and Saving Our Democracy Mary Frances Berry - Professor of American Social Thought, University of Pennsylvania On our radar: Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Meenakshi Ravi about how the demonstrations in the US have delivered the perfect opportunity for some international media - for example, state-run outlets in Iran and China - to take pot shots at America. Eyes in the sky: Gathering evidence with drones Sometimes capturing an image or a single video can have a transformative effect. Anyone contending with state violence, whether they are in Minneapolis, Hong Kong or the Middle East, knows that sometimes all they need to make their case - to expose illegality - is the right picture. But there are some places that satellites and phones cannot go. That is where drones come in. Television journalists love drone images for the perspective and scope they provide. Advertisers use them for their cinematic quality and effect on consumers. But drones are also being used to provide irrefutable, photographic evidence of human rights abuses and illegality. The Listening Post's Tariq Nafi looks at drones and how they are being used in investigations across the world. Feature contributors: Josh Lyons - Director of Geospatial Analysis, Human Rights Watch Juan Bergelund - CEO, UAV del Peru and Country Manager, Peru Flying Labs Kelly Matheson - Human rights attorney and Director, Video as Evidence programme, Witness - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Eyes in the sky: Gathering evidence with drones | The Listening Post (Feature)
Jun 07 2020 9 mins  
Sometimes the capturing of an image or a single video can have a transformative effect. George Floyd's killing is an example. The eight-minute, 46-second video speaks for itself. That is why it sent so many Americans onto the streets. And anyone contending with state violence, whether they are in Minneapolis, Hong Kong or the Middle East, knows that sometimes all they need to prove their point - to expose illegality - is the right picture. That is why mobile phone footage fills news broadcasts. It is why journalists and investigators have turned to images from space - satellite pictures - to expose China's secret Uighur prison camps. However, there are some places where satellites and phones cannot go; the space between. That is where drones come in. The Listening Post's Tariq Nafi spoke with three voices from different fields, on how drones are being used to provide irrefutable photographic evidence of human rights abuses and illegality. "Drones give you a very exciting ability to collect not just powerful, graphic and compelling imagery and video," Josh Lyons, Geospatial Analyst at Human Rights Watch explained, "but new types of information that we haven't collected before and really couldn't have collected before." Lyons recently tested the limits of this technology in northeast Syria, descending into what was once a natural beauty spot - al-Hota gorge - and has since become a place of reckoning and death. It was a drone that exposed that ISIL, also known as ISIS, had turned a family picnic spot into a mass grave. "What it showed us was something we had not expected. Bodies, human remains, that were obviously fresh," says Lyons. "And it was clear from the imagery that these people had been thrown into al-Hota within the last two weeks approximately. And so it raised a whole range of new questions. Who put these bodies in there? Why are they there? And what lies below that water surface? But the drones also provided us with key bits of evidence that we needed to help argue and advance for professional forensic exhumation of this site." Drones let investigators reach places covertly, and see things, some would prefer to remain unseen - like illegality in the Amazon of Peru. That is where Juan Bergelund, Country Manager of Peru Flying Labs, is using drones to protect the environment and monitor illegal mining. "We can be in the air for two or three hours and then we can monitor everything that they [are] doing, without them even noticing," explains Bergelund. "So with all this information, we go through the authorities and we show what they were doing, not only this week, but the previous week, the previous month and so on. So that's why by combining all these new technologies we may be able to present the authorities with significant evidence." Combining mobile phone footage, satellite and drone imagery is the best way to build an airtight case, says Kelly Matheson, a human rights attorney with the NGO, Witness. The work she does revolves around how communities can use video evidence to bring about justice. Asked by The Listening Post what makes drone footage such a powerful medium, Matheson said: "From an environmental perspective, I think there's a lot of people out there who believe that we, as humanity, can't destroy the world. We don't have that power, the Earth is too powerful and will bounce back. But I think often times when you see that drone footage of the destruction that's happening right before our eyes, it allows us to imagine the unimaginable. It allows us to observe what can't otherwise readily be observed. And I think it's powerful for us to be able to see how we are destroying the planet and in turn destroying our own chances of survival." - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


AI and our health data: A pandemic threat to our privacy | The Listening Post (Full)
May 30 2020 26 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: The pandemic gives big tech firms a chance to access the holy grail of datasets - your medical records. Plus, science journalists and their sources. AI and our health data: A pandemic threat to our privacy Put yourself in the shoes of the NHS, the United Kingdom's tax-payer funded public health service. You treat about a million patients every 36 hours and that is pre-pandemic. The amount of health data you are now churning out is enormous - and you want to harness that data in the fight against COVID-19. So you turn to the private sector and get technology companies to help you do that. Seems to make sense, but here is the issue: Companies with chequered histories over data handling start landing those contracts. And, to date, the British government has refused to disclose the contractual terms. Information does not get any more personal than your health data. And, in the midst of this pandemic, the British public has been left in the dark on where that data is going - and what these companies and the government might be able to do with it, down the road. Contributors: Mona Sloane - fellow, Institute for Public Knowledge, NYU Cori Crider - director, Foxglove Phil Booth - co-ordinator, MedConfidential Bryan Glick - editor-in-chief, Computer Weekly On our radar: Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Johanna Hoes about local television stations in the United States filing the exact same story on the world's largest retailer, Amazon and its handling of COVID-19 in the workplace - plus the major media players in Brazil who are boycotting Bolsonaro's briefings. Science journalism in the spotlight For months now, journalists around the world have been on a crash course in reporting on medical science. They had no experience in covering a pandemic and we have documented some of the shortcomings in their reporting. Now we are turning to journalists with some actual credentials in this field: Science and health reporters. In many cases, they were the first to recognise the dangers of the outbreak in Wuhan, leaving the rest of us to play catch up. Historically underappreciated, and usually underrepresented in newsrooms, science and health reporters now find their expertise is in demand. But their rise to prominence has been accompanied by a new level of scrutiny in the kind of work they do. And their critics are coming out of the woodwork. The Listening Post's Flo Phillips talks to three science journalists about the highs - and lows - of covering the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributors: Helen Branswell - senior infectious disease reporter, STAT News Kai Kupferschmidt - contributing correspondent, Science Magazine Vidya Krishnan - health and science journalist - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Science journalism in the spotlight | The Listening Post (Feature)
May 31 2020 9 mins  
For months now, journalists around the world have been on a crash course in reporting on medical science. But they had no experience in covering a pandemic. Now we are turning to journalists with some actual credentials in this field: science and health reporters. In many cases, they were the first to recognise the dangers of the outbreak in Wuhan, leaving the rest of us to play catch-up. The Listening Post's Flo Phillips spoke with three science journalists, from three different countries, about how they sounded the alarm on the virus that would come to be known as COVID-19. "It was something I definitely thought we needed to be watching," Helen Branswell, Senior Infectious Disease Reporter for STAT news explained. "The reports out of China were starting to become alarming because the numbers were growing pretty quickly. So if you watch these kinds of outbreaks over time, this was something that was setting off alarm bells." And in fact, many of these reporters have been watching out for these types of outbreaks for years. Back in 2013, Kai Kupferschmidt, a contributing correspondent for Science magazine, wrote an article about a bat in China carrying a potential pandemic. "Again and again, in the last 10 years or so, when I was doing my reporting, this sentence came up from scientists," Kupferschmidt said. "They were telling me, you know, it's not a question of if there will be a big pandemic. The question is when." Since the outbreak, science journalists have been relentlessly reporting. They have introduced audiences to concepts such as flattening the curve and social distancing; they have explained the need for lockdowns and mass testing, and; they have challenged governments on their pandemic responses. For their efforts, many have witnessed skyrocketing readership and online followings. But this new attention has come with a price, as political polarisation can often taint the information and lead to ad hominem attacks. "They want the reporting to be in line with the politics so that it doesn't make India look bad", said Vidya Krishnan, a health and science journalist from the country. "The minute the story goes online, we have government handles and politicians attacking individual reporters and questioning our integrity and dismissing the story without actually pointing out what's wrong factually that's being put out." In the United States, a similar picture has emerged. "One of the things that I found tragic about this pandemic and the coverage of the pandemic is how politicised the whole thing has become," said Branswell. "Which side of the divide people fall on relates to which party they support. There's a deep misunderstanding of what's going on in certain parts of the country." With COVID-19 becoming as much about the politics as it is about the science, many science journalists have been left out of the daily press briefings - hardly the best use of available resources when the story you are covering is a pandemic. "I'm not sure that science journalists need to take the lead, but I certainly think they should be at the table," said Kupferschmidt. "There are a lot of important questions that science journalists know to ask that political journalists don't know to ask. It just seems like this press conference would really profit if there were also science journalists there." Contributors: Helen Branswell - Senior Infectious Disease Reporter, STAT Kai Kupferschmidt - Contributing Correspondent, Science magazine Vidya Krishnan - Health and Science Journalist - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Listen, Watch, Learn: Peru's school system takes to the airwaves | The Listening Post (Feature)
May 24 2020 9 mins  
March 16, 2020, was the day Peruvian parents, teachers, and students had been preparing for - the beginning of the new school year. But on March 15, the president appeared on national TV to declare a state of emergency and a strict nationwide lockdown. "One day I got a call from the chairman of the network," Fatima Saldonid, a journalist and newsreader on the public broadcaster, TV Peru, told The Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi. "He told me schools were being shut, and the Education Ministry had asked us to produce an education-from-home programme. Then he said, 'you're going to be one of the presenters'. Well, I like a challenge, so I said, 'Let's do it!'" To call it a "challenge" would be an understatement; Aprendo en Casa (I Learn at Home) aims to put on air the core syllabus of Peru's primary and secondary school curricula, amounting to six hours of TV programming every weekday. While other countries have experimented with delivering classes to children online, authorities in Peru knew this was not an option for a country where more than 40 percent of the population does not have internet access. "Television is one of the most used mediums," explains Diana Marchena, planning coordinator at Peru's Ministry of Education. "The internet doesn't have the same reach here as television, so we were determined that a child's progress must not depend on whether they have access to the internet." To ensure Aprendo en Casa could reach as many children in the country as possible, the government coordinated closely not only with TV Peru, but with private channels and radio stations as well. "No one could have guessed this sort of thing could happen," says Ernesto Cortes, general manager of the RPP Group, a private network of TV channels and radio stations that are helping to broadcast Aprendo en Casa. "I can't recall a situation in which, for the shared goal of public education, both private and public media have united... I think it's the first time for something of this magnitude." The show has proven to be a hit, quickly becoming one of the most-watched TV programmes in Peru. It has provided schoolteachers across the country with a vital resource with which to maintain the progress of their students. "Watching the TV broadcasts, I am struck by how dynamic the presenters are!" says Victor Zapata, a schoolteacher in the capital, Lima. Every day, he tells his students to watch the show and assigns tasks based on the broadcast. "TV has lots of resources, and they are making the most of them. A teacher in a classroom does not have such resources. Of course, if I had them, I'd use them gladly!" But some have struggled to benefit. "The children I teach have nowhere near the same resources that children in cities have," says Marlith Norabuena, a teacher in rural Peru. "For example, when it rains or there are changes in the weather, the TV, radio and internet signals - which are already very weak - just stop working altogether." While the limitations of the government's strategy have highlighted deep structural inequality in the country, the success of Aprendo en Casa has demonstrated the power of the media, both public and private, to improve prospects for young people in Peru. "With Aprendo en Casa we're at the start of a new process," says Saldonid. "We have an opportunity to take a fresh look at education ... We have a great chance to create the kind of society we aspire to. But to get there, we need to work from the ground up. And society's foundations are its children." Produced by: Meenakshi Ravi, Luciano Gorriti and Ahmed Madi Contributors: Ernesto Cortes - General manager, RPP Group Diana Marchena - Planning coordinator, Ministry of Education, Peru Victor Zapata - Lima-based secondary school teacher Fatima Saldonid - Presenter, Aprendo en Casa and broadcaster, TV Peru Marlith Norabuena - Rural school teacher More: https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/listeningpost/



The Conspiracy Virus: COVID-19 misinformation in the US | The Listening Post
May 23 2020 25 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: How a conspiracy documentary hijacked US social media and fuelled misinformation on COVID-19. Plus: Peru and the art of digital homeschooling. COVID-19 misinformation in US So much about this pandemic remains unknown, which is why reporting on it is so challenging. A lack of scientific consensus, heavy-handed government policies, and lockdown-induced economic woes have resulted in a wave of fear, anxiety, and powerlessness - perfect conditions for misinformation and conspiracy theories to thrive. The US is ground zero for a lot of these theories, not least because the president and outlets like Fox News have long trafficked in them. There is a market for conspiracy theories; one that can turn a discredited scientist and an obscure filmmaker into an internet phenomenon. The Listening Post takes a look at 'Plandemic' - the viral sensation of COVID-19 conspiracy theories. Contributors: Joe Uscinski - co-author, American Conspiracy Theories Joan Donovan - research director, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University Will Sommer - tech reporter, The Daily Beast Jared Yates Sexton - author & analyst On our radar: Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Nic Muirhead about a recent buyout in Italy meaning that Fiat automobiles now controls one of Italy's biggest newspapers - La Repubblica - and with it, a shift in editorial tone. Listen, Watch, Learn: Peru's school system takes to airwaves In many countries, it is still far too early to send children back to school. Take Peru, for instance; with more than 100,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, it has the second most of any Latin American country, behind Brazil. One area where Peru seems to have fared better is education. Within three weeks of declaring a national lockdown, and with the collaboration of both public and private broadcasters, the Peruvian government brought to air Aprendo en Casa, or I Learn at Home - six hours of educational programming, every weekday. The goal is to make the entirety of both the primary and secondary school curricula available to all students, including the millions without TV and internet access. The Listening Post's Meenakshi Ravi takes a look at Aprendo en Casa - the TV and radio platform that is schooling Peruvian kids during lockdown. Contributors: Ernesto Cortes - general manager, RPP Group Diana Marchena - planning coordinator, Education Ministry of Peru Víctor Zapata - Lima-based secondary school teacher Fátima Saldonid - presenter, Aprendo en Casa & Broadcaster, TV Perú Marlith Norabuena - rural school teacher - - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


India's lockdown: Narratives of inequality and Islamophobia | The Listening Post (Full)
May 19 2020 26 mins  
On this episode of The Listening Post: India's lockdown has magnified two of the country's most serious social ills: inequality and Islamophobia. Plus, what is it like to photograph the coronavirus pandemic? India's lockdown: Narratives of inequality and Islamophobia India is now one month into the world's biggest lockdown. Just hours before it was announced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with media owners and editors and asked them to "serve as a link between the government and people" - in other words, to produce positive news stories. Simple request or tacit warning? The pandemic has also exacerbated a chronic condition in Indian news media - Islamophobia. Some outlets have even accused Muslims of creating and spreading the virus, a hateful narrative that not only plays right into the hands of Modi's BJP government, but also leaves millions bereft of potentially lifesaving information. Contributors: Pragya Tiwari - Delhi-based writer Betwa Sharma - politics editor, HuffPost India Barkha Dutt - editor, Mojo Arfa Khanum Sherwani - senior editor, The Wire On our radar: Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Meenakshi Ravi about contact tracing - the hi-tech means of tracking the COVID-19 outbreak - and why European countries are struggling to implement it. Portrait of a pandemic: Capturing the spaces we call home Lockdown has changed everything - millions have been confined to their homes and public spaces have been left deserted. While journalists, like everyone else, have struggled to adapt to new and unprecedented working conditions, photojournalists have found opportunity amid the adversity. The Listening Post's Flo Phillips talks to three photographers - each with a unique perspective on life under lockdown - and how it has changed the way we inhabit the spaces in which we live. Contributors: Marzio Toniolo - teacher and photographer Phil Penman - photographer Ravi Choudhary - photographer, Press Trust of India - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Amidst Lockdown, Philippines's Largest TV Network Goes Off Air | The Listening Post
May 19 2020 26 mins  
On The Listening Post: The Filipino government has forced local television network ABS-CBN off the air. Plus, COVID-19 is used as a cover to stifle voices of dissent in Hong Kong Amidst lockdown, Philippines's largest TV network goes off air The consensus of presidents and prime ministers just about everywhere has been that getting accurate news and information out is vital since it can save lives. So what have the authorities in the Philippines done? Duterte's government has ordered the country's biggest television broadcaster, ABS-CBN, off the airwaves. The government says the network's franchise had expired, and so had its right to broadcast. That is nowhere near the full story. President Rodrigo Duterte has persistently attacked ABS-CBN for its critical journalism, including its coverage of his so-called war on drugs. He had long threatened to take the network down. Now that he has got his wish, other media outlets in Duterte's crosshairs are wondering if and when he will be coming for them. Contributors: Manuel Mogato - editor-at-large, PressOnePH Inday Espina-Varona - former chair, National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Ging Reyes - head of news, ABS-CBN Paul Gutierrez - National Press Club of the Philippines On our radar: Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Flo Phillips about President Donald Trump's confrontations with journalists by day and tweetstorms by night. Under the cover of COVID: Cracking down on Hong Kong Before the pandemic hit, hundreds of thousands of people in Hong Kong took to the streets protesting the erosion of their freedoms, demanding independence from China. The months of demonstrations led to changes in Hong Kong's media ecosystem. Nascent, digital news outlets reporting on the front lines saw a huge jump in their numbers and support, a reflection of protesters' growing distrust in their mainstream media - and mainland China's growing influence. Things are gradually returning to a new normal but when COVID-19 first emptied Hong Kong's streets, depriving those outlets of editorial content, a question arose - what will become of them? In addition, both Beijing and Hong Kong authorities appear to have been using the virus as a cover to crack down on voices they do not like, including the city's only pro-democracy newspaper, the Apple Daily. The Listening Post's Johanna Hoes reports on Hong Kong's changing media landscape, COVID-19, and the use of a pandemic to silence dissent. Contributors: Mark Simon - executive, Apple Daily Yuen Chan - senior lecturer, City University Ronson Chan - deputy assignment editor, Stand News Tom Grundy - founder, Hong Kong Free Press - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Under the cover of COVID-19: Cracking down on Hong Kong | The Listening Post (Feature)
May 17 2020 9 mins  
As Hong Kong moved from 2019 to COVID-19, streets once jammed with protesters suddenly lay empty. The pandemic could not have come at a better time for the Beijing and Hong Kong authorities. Following months of mass demonstrations - which saw hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers demand independence from China - critics say both governments have been using COVID as a cover to crack down on dissent and push through laws that would further curb the city's freedoms. "Beijing certainly wants to ensure that the protests, the likes of which we saw last year, cannot be allowed to happen again. So they may be pushing through some controversial legislation, including national security laws and we've also seen pro-democracy figures rounded up. To be having all of this happening with a backdrop of COVID-19 and the social distancing measures in place I think, is no coincidence", explains Tom Grundy, co-founder of the news outlet, Hong Kong Free Press. One of the 15 prominent pro-democracy figures rounded up last month was a businessman called Jimmy Lai. Lai is a billionaire who owns the Apple Daily, Hong Kong's second-largest newspaper and the city's only openly pro-democracy mainstream outlet. The Listening Post's Johanna Hoes spoke with Mark Simon, an executive at Next Digital, the media conglomerate that owns the Apple Daily, and he made the point that: "Beijing was not gonna let a crisis go to waste. Lai and Apple Daily have been a thorn in the side of the Beijing-appointed government for as long as, basically, we've been around, since 1997. Arresting these people, that was a major move that they knew they could get away with just because of the coronavirus." In a media landscape dominated by news outlets that are either under direct control of the Chinese Communist Party or in the hands of businesses with close ties to the mainland, Apple Daily's coverage of the protests was hugely popular among those on the streets. But it was not the only outlet demonstrators turned to for news. For many nascent, digital media organisations, the democracy movement presented a news story - and even a financial opportunity - like no other. "People really saw that the independent, newer outfits were the ones that were showing what was really happening on the front lines and they didn't feel that they were compromised in the same way that they perceived the mainstream media to be. So there was real support for these outlets", explains Yuen Chan, senior lecturer at City University in London. One of the protesters' go-to new media outlets was Stand News. Its deputy assignment editor, Ronson Chan, explains his organisation's new-found popularity resulted in a huge financial boost. But as soon as the pandemic hit, those resources started to dry up. "For Stand News, the entire movement presented such a change - we had a significant increase in donations and our team grew from 10 to 30. But the pandemic has affected the economy. A lot of our readers who previously sponsored us are newly unemployed. Plus, we have seen fewer demonstrations so we have fewer live broadcasts and people have less interest in our platform." New protests this past week - albeit on a smaller scale - may be a sign that Hong Kongers are ready to return to the streets, despite the pandemic. The question is whether it is too late for outlets like Stand News. Produced by: Johanna Hoes Contributors: Mark Simon - Executive, Apple Daily Yuen Chan - Senior Lecturer, City University of London Ronson Chan - Deputy Assignment Editor, Stand News Tom Grundy - Co-founder, Hong Kong Free Press - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Coronavirus communicators: Path-breaking pandemic journalism | The Listening Post
May 09 2020 25 mins  
In our non-stop coverage of the media side of the coronavirus pandemic over the past few months, we have trained our lens on its more troubling aspects: From misinformation being spread by citizens, journalists and governments alike to the war of narratives being waged by great powers. But COVID-19 has also brought out the best in the fourth estate: People who are producing vital coverage, sometimes designed and delivered in new ways to help us understand a story laden with complexities. In this special edition of The Listening Post, we track four path-breaking media projects from four different parts of the world, each of them using a different medium. From the United States and Brazil - countries whose presidents have repeatedly misinformed their electorates - Flo Phillips and Johanna Hoes hear from two medical experts-turned-broadcasters respectively; one through his podcast, the other over YouTube. Later in the episode Daniel Turi takes us to Europe - virtually, of course - and a media aggregator that bypasses Silicon Valley's advertising-driven algorithms and onto smart COVID-19 analysis you might otherwise miss. But Meenakshi Ravi starts the programme where the coronavirus story began, in China, where a Beijing-based magazine is proving that, even with the authorities ready to pounce, it can produce valuable journalism on the biggest news story of our time. Contributors: Zhan Zhang - research fellow, China Media Observatory Abdul El-Sayed - creator and host, America Dissected and author, Healing Politics: A Doctor's Journey Into the Heart of our Political Epidemic Atila Iamarino - science communicator and co-host, Nerdologia Evgeny Morozov - creator, The Syllabus Produced by: Meenakshi Ravi, Flo Phillips, Daniel Turi and Ryan Kohls - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Who holds WHO accountable? | The Listening Post (Feature)
May 03 2020 10 mins  
Much of the coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic treats the World Health Organization (WHO) as an authoritative, impartial source of information. But should it? From the advent of COVID-19, the WHO's press conferences have been a fixture in global news coverage. They serve as a touchstone for journalists and, given that the WHO has 194 member states, the pressers have become a primary source of information for global context. "The WHO does shape information globally quite significantly," says Lawrence Gostin, a professor in global health law at Georgetown University who has worked closely with the WHO in the past, "because it is a trusted and objective science adviser to the world". However, the organisation's objectivity has been called into question. It started in early January when China media analysts started observing a similarity between what the WHO was saying and official statements coming out of China. For example, on January 14, the WHO tweeted: "Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus". That same day, the Wuhan Health Commission's public bulletin declared, "We have not found proof for human-to-human transmission." The question is, why would the WHO repeat - almost verbatim - the claims made by China when news outlets, in Hong Kong and elsewhere, were already comparing the novel coronavirus to SARS and saying that it could very well be transferred from person to person? The answer comes down to access. China only granted the WHO access to Wuhan in February 2020, nearly three months after the first case was detected. "WHO's reporting, by virtue of its governance, is highly dependent on every member country's ability, honesty and willingness to share data and issue notifications of epidemics," says Osman Dar, director of the Global Health Programme at Chatham House. "Its verification systems can only be as good as the access their member states provide." Which is the crux of the issue. Member states are not beholden to the WHO but rather the WHO is beholden to them. Not only is the organisation's access, in large part, determined by its member states, but they also make up most of the WHO's funding. On April 15, US President Donald Trump threatened to halt his country's funding to the WHO, accusing the organisation of being China-centric. The president's critics say the threat was an attempt to deflect criticism of Trump's own mishandling of this crisis; however, his actions highlight a key vulnerability in the WHO. The US is, by far, the organisation's biggest funder and if Washington follows through with Trump's threat, then that would severely hinder its operational capacity. Which begs the question - how can the WHO speak truth to power when those powers largely control its access and its funding? "It's not totally neutral. If you're seeing something coming from the WHO, it's something that its member states wanted to be released, it is something that a member state consented to be released," says Stephen Buranyi, a journalist at The Guardian newspaper, "to see the full picture, you have to go beyond what states are telling it." Produced by: Nicholas Muirhead Contributors: Lawrence Gostin - Director, O'Neill Institute, Georgetown University Osman Dar - Global Health Programme, Chatham House Stephen Buranyi - Journalist, The Guardian Rana Mitter - Director, China Centre, Oxford University - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Brazil's Bolsonaro: Turning COVID-19 denial into media spectacle | The Listening Post (Full)
May 02 2020 26 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: Brazil's President Bolsonaro and COVID-19 misinformation. Plus, how well has the WHO performed as a key information source during the pandemic? Brazil's Bolsonaro: Turning COVID-19 denial into media spectacle A president at odds with his advisers and scientists over COVID-19, who has said the virus is no worse than the flu, and whose supporters accuse the media of hyping up the story. Not Donald Trump, but Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro. Even as deaths in Brazil surpass China, President Bolsonaro continues to downplay the pandemic. After firing his health minister, he went on to attend a "protest" demanding military intervention to lift the lockdown. He also has the support of two of Brazil's biggest media players, Record TV and SBT. Whether Bolsonaro is in denial, or just playing politics, they are standing firmly by his side. Contributors: Andrew Fishman - Managing editor, The Intercept Brasil Gustavo Ribeiro - Founder, Brazilian Report Bob Fernandes - Journalist and commentator Leonardo Custodio, Postdoctoral researcher - Abo Akademi University On our radar: Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Meenakshi Ravi about a media storm in Pakistan, where a religious leader turned a televised coronavirus fundraiser into an attack on the broadcasters. Who holds WHO accountable? COVID-19 is the biggest news story most of us have ever seen. Of all the institutions responsible for getting information out, the World Health Organization (WHO) may be the most vital. The WHO is a specialised agency of the United Nations borne out of the recognition that no single country can manage a global outbreak, and that an international health body is needed to rise above the politics of national interests. In this pandemic, however, the WHO has been accused of falling short of its mandate and was unable to act independently in accessing and assessing the outbreak. The WHO was only granted access to Wuhan in mid-February. And not only did it fail to verify the early information on COVID-19 coming out of China, but it amplified it by repeating Chinese misinformation. On January 14, the WHO tweeted that there was "no proof of human-to-human transmission" of the coronavirus. But at the time, media in Hong Kong and other countries, were already comparing the virus to SARS and saying it was most likely transmitting from people to people. The Listening Post's producer Nic Muirhead reports on the WHO, and how one of the most important news sources in the world may be compromised. Contributors: Lawrence Gostin - Director, O'Neill Institute, Georgetown University Osman Dar - Global Health Programme, Chatham House Stephen Buranyi - Journalist, The Guardian Rana Mitter - Director, China Centre, Oxford University - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Portrait of a pandemic: Capturing the spaces we call home | The Listening Post (Feature)
Apr 26 2020 9 mins  
Lockdown has changed everything - millions have been confined to their homes, public spaces have been left deserted. While journalists, like everyone else, have struggled to adapt to new and unprecedented working conditions, photojournalists have found opportunity amid the adversity. "During the first two weeks, no journalists were allowed in the area where I live so they couldn't show the world what was going on here," says Marzio Toniolo, a 35-year old teacher turned photographer. "That's when I saw an opportunity." Toniolo lives in San Fiorano, northern Italy, the epicentre of Europe's coronavirus outbreak and one of the worst affected regions in the world. His photographs document how his family, three generations under one roof, have adapted to a strict lockdown well into its third month. "I wanted to focus on the normality of it all - what was going on at home day in, day out… I think everyone can identify in some way with my family's situation." On the other end of the spectrum, the great urban spaces where millions once gathered, now lie empty and desolate. Phil Penman is a British photographer based in New York City, and in 25 years of chronicling life in the city, he's never seen anything like it. "It's very weird because you go out there and there are no photographers. So I wanted to try to capture the emptiness of the city." His work is achingly quiet. Landmarks such as Grand Central Terminal and the Statue of Liberty - once teeming with visitors - are shrouded in silence and stillness. "It's just totally bizarre," says Penman. "If I was the city, I would be asking what happened? You know, where is everybody? It's emotional being out there." In other parts of the world, solitude is a luxury that many cannot afford. "Daily wage earners and workers live in highly crowded dwellings with barely any space to stretch their legs," explains Ravi Choudhary. "If one of them catches coronavirus, it's inevitable others will get infected too because they cannot quarantine themselves." Choudhary is a Delhi-based photographer for the Press Trust of India. His photographs provide shocking witness to the mass upheaval of migrant workers caused by the lockdown. Forced into the streets and stranded hundreds of kilometres from their homes, they have no choice but to attempt the journey on foot. "I followed this little girl with a large bag on her head after spotting her in the crowd and I asked her where she was headed," recalls Choudhary. "Her village was about 400 kilometers away and I thought to myself, how is this little girl, with such a heavy burden, going to make it all the way back to her village… Sometimes all you need is one single photo to understand the whole story. " The Listening Post's Flo Phillips talks to three photographers - each with a unique perspective on life under lockdown, and how it has changed the way we inhabit the spaces in which we live. Contributors: Marzio Toniolo - Teacher and photographer Phil Penman - Photographer Ravi Choudhary - Photographer, Press Trust of India Produced by: Flo Phillips and Ahmed Madi - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


COVID-19 in Britain: The death toll and the media deference | The Listening Post (Full)
Apr 18 2020 26 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: From "herd immunity" to lack of testing, Britain's coronavirus response has needed more media scrutiny. Plus, Israeli surveillance under cover of COVID-19. COVID-19 in Britain: The death toll and the media deference As the coronavirus death toll in the UK continues to mount - there is a growing market for explanations. And it is not being met at 10 Downing Street. Government officials at the daily briefings are dodging difficult questions. Journalists are failing to get answers. This has meant politicians have been getting away with vague or incomplete answers on some serious failings - such as the lack of testing, personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and ventilators - in a relatively prosperous country. Then there are the questionable decisions that Prime Minister Boris Johnson took in the early stages. Johnson caught the virus - but has recovered. His personal story has received plenty of attention. But how we got here - and who is responsible - is a larger story, yet to be properly told. Contributors: Hardeep Matharu - Editor, Byline Times Karin Wahl-Jorgensen - Journalism professor, Cardiff University Helen Ward - Professor of Public Health, Imperial College London Carole Cadwalladr - Reporter, The Observer On our radar: Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Nicholas Muirhead about the novel methods those under lockdown are using to get their stories about COVID-19 heard on the outside. Pandemic panopticon - Israeli surveillance under cover of COVID-19 Here at The Listening Post, we have been tracking how some governments are using technology to monitor the movements of their citizens and curb the spread of the coronavirus. We examined some of the long-term implications of that - the concern that even if this pandemic is brought under control, those governments might prove reluctant to give up their new surveillance powers. Israel would be a case in point. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now has the legal right to surveil Israeli citizens in new ways, and he acquired that right without even consulting the parliament. Israel already has expertise in this field. It has spent decades honing its ability - and the technology required - to monitor the movements of Palestinians. The Listening Post's Tariq Nafi reports from home on the surveillance that Palestinians have been subjected to - and whether Israelis can see what's coming. Contributors: Yossi Melman - Writer, Haaretz Marwa Fatafta - Policy manager, Access Now Yael Berda - Assistant professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Pandemic panopticon: Israeli surveillance during COVID-19 | The Listening Post (Feature)
Apr 18 2020 9 mins  
At The Listening Post, we have been tracking how governments are using technology - primarily phone data - to monitor the movements of citizens - and curb the spread of the coronavirus. Among the long term implications of that is the concern that even if and when the pandemic is brought under control, those governments might prove reluctant to give up their new surveillance powers. Israel is a case in point. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now has the legal right to surveil Israeli citizens in new ways - and he did that without even consulting the parliament. And Israel already has expertise in this area. It has spent decades honing its ability - and the technology required - to monitor the movements of Palestinians. "The difference with Israel is that it had in place a template," Yael Berda, a visiting lecturer at Harvard University, told The Listening Post's Tariq Nafi. "Possibly the most sophisticated population management system on the planet. It basically governs four million people that do not have rights. And, therefore, the issue of suspension of rights was, is not a question when we're talking about the occupied territories." Israelis serving in the elite units that conduct surveillance on Palestinians, often exit their mandatory military service through a revolving door into the private sector. They use their experience to turn a profit. That is the case with the founders of NSO - an Israeli tech company whose links to authoritarian regimes around the world have featured in many scandals - now trying to hawk its software as a panacea for coronavirus. "There are numerous stories of journalists and human rights defenders, and civil society activists, being killed, harassed, surveilled, using NSO Group spyware," Marwa Fatafta at Access Now told Nafi. "So companies like these are in no business to deal with people's sensitive health data." Looming over the massive system of surveillance being assembled by Israel is its embattled prime minister. Netanyahu has for years played up fears about his enemies - Palestinians, the media and more. Now, as he fights for his political survival, he's exploiting fear generated by the coronavirus to entrench his rule. Yossi Melman, a writer for Haaretz, made the point that Netanyahu "has been in power for 11 years but in the last years, he didn't win the last three elections. And still, he's manipulating the situation to concentrate even more power in his hands." "Fighting the pandemic is one thing," says Fatafta "but we should not sacrifice our privacy as a price for it, and we should not be put in a corner where we have to choose between our privacy or our health." Contributors: Yossi Melman - Writer, Haaretz Marwa Fatafta - Policy manager, Access Now Yael Berda - Assistant professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/



Pandemic journalism: Italian media grapples with COVID-19 | The Listening Post (Feature)
Apr 12 2020 9 mins  
When it comes to the role the media can play - good and bad - during a global pandemic, look no further than Italy: The second country to be gripped by COVID-19 and the first in which news outlets are, in any meaningful sense, free from state control. The nationwide lockdown has been in effect for more than a month, but the government has made an exception for reporters, deeming their work an essential service. As might be expected in these extraordinary times, the task of serving the public interest - never more vital - has also been fraught with complexity for Italian journalists. One challenge has been gauging the boundaries of what constitutes ethical, or responsible journalism during a public health emergency of such unprecedented scale. An outlet judged to have exceeded those limits is Corriere della Sera, Italy's most widely-read newspaper. On March 8, the day before the northern region of Lombardy, Italy's COVID-19 epicentre, went into lockdown, the paper published an early draft of the government decree ordering the province's 16 million inhabitants to stay indoors. "That leak generated immediately a frenzy," Mattia Ferraresi, a reporter for the conservative-leaning daily Il Foglio, told The Listening Post's Daniel Turi. "According to a newspaper called Il Fatto Quotidiano, that pushed 41,000 people to move around the country in a moment when it was absolutely crucial that people would respect orders and not move around to avoid spreading the virus." Another battle has been the barrage of misinformation ricocheting around the internet - from WhatsApp forwards playing down the virus's potency to viral videos claiming it was cooked up in a laboratory by one great power or another. Giulia Bosetti is a reporter for Presa Diretta, an investigative publication on the publicly-owned TV channel Rai 3 which has been debunking COVID-19 myths: "For example, the same day our programme was broadcast, a Rai TV report from 2015 about a coronavirus created in a Chinese lab started circulating again. But it was about a completely different virus … Literally in the space of a few hours, Salvini - the leader of the Lega party and our former deputy prime minister - actually asked a question in parliament requesting it to be investigated … It only took us a few interviews with doctors and scientists to prove that it was totally fake news." The pandemic has paused what had been a lengthy period of decline for traditional media in Italy - especially for newspapers, whose sales have fallen more or less continuously since the 1990s. If the rise of the internet is the underlying factor in that trend, a powerful catalyst has been the breakdown of public trust in mainstream news sources over the same period. A report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism last year underlined the depth of the deficit: Just 40 percent of the Italians polled said they trusted the news media - a figure the report describes as "particularly low" - while just one-third thought the media scrutinised the powerful well. That, however, was pre-COVID-19. The confinement of 60 million people inside their homes - and in need of reliable information - has gifted Italy's news industry with something previously unthinkable: A, literally, captive audience. Carlo Verdelli, editor-in-chief at Italy's leading centre-left broadsheet, La Repubblica, explains the effect on the paper's circulation: "Before the coronavirus, we averaged approximately three million unique visitors a day. Now on our busiest days we reach 14-15 million visitors." Sales of physical copies have also increased, Verdelli says, despite the closure of thousands of newsstands. For Rai 3's Giulia Bosetti, it is a chance for Italy's legacy media to start winning back that lost faith: "This is the moment when television journalism, and print as well, can regain the trust of their listeners and readers by offering up different kinds of journalism - daily updates with the latest facts and figures, including the number of deaths - but also reporting that tries to understand the root of the problems we now face." Produced by: Daniel Turi Contributors: Mattia Ferraresi - reporter, Il Foglio Giulia Bosetti - investigative journalist, Rai 3 Carlo Verdelli - editor-in-chief, La Repubblica - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Do numbers lie? Data and statistics in the age of coronavirus | The Listening Post (Full)
Apr 11 2020 26 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: Infection rates, death rates - the news is full of statistics about the virus, but how accurate are they? Plus, Italian journalists reflect on reporting COVID-19. Do numbers lie? Data and statistics in the age of the coronavirus. COVID-19 is a news story driven by the numbers. The data helps journalists quantify the scale of the pandemic and allows news consumers to assess the risk. The numbers also inform governments on what measures should be taken. But statisticians say the way in which coronavirus data is collected, interpreted and reported, is inherently flawed. The issue is not misinformation, rather it is the limitations of science, in the early stages of understanding a new virus and a new pandemic. Contributors: Jon Allsop - Writer, CJR newsletter John Ioannidis - Professor, Stanford University Maggie Koerth - Senior science reporter, FiveThirtyEight John Allen Paulos - Mathematics professor, Temple University; author of A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper On our radar: Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Johanna Hoes about how WhatsApp is trying to stem the flow of misinformation about COVID-19 on its platform. Pandemic journalism: Italian media grapple with COVID-19 Countries still climbing the coronavirus curve have been looking at nations that are further along - to see what's coming. Journalists who want to do the same might want to take a long look at Italy. It was the second country to be gripped by COVID-19 and the first in which the media are largely free from government control. Italy's nationwide lockdown has been in effect for more than a month, but the government has made an exception for reporters, deeming their work to be an essential service. Those journalists have had their work cut out for them from the start. Trust in the Italian media had been at an all-time low. Nothing like a big news story for a chance to rebuild a reputation. Daniel Turi speaks with three Italian journalists. Contributors: Mattia Ferraresi - Reporter, Il Foglio Giulia Bosetti - Investigative journalist, Rai 3 Carlo Verdelli - Editor-in-chief, La Repubblica - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


The geopolitical battle for the COVID-19 narrative | The Listening Post (Full)
Apr 08 2020 26 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: From China to the US, the COVID-19 battle is as much medical as it is media. Plus, lessons from the coverage of the 1918 Spanish flu. The geopolitical battle for the COVID-19 narrative As they have been isolating their populations to keep the coronavirus contained, some powerful governments are simultaneously waging a worldwide war of perceptions - laying out how the pandemic happened, where the responsibilities lie and which country should lead the fight against it. China is out to shift the narrative from its initially slow response - the way its censors kept a lid on the story - to the collective effort since then to bring down the infection rate. Beijing has also borrowed a page from Moscow's playbook - using mainstream and social media platforms to spread conspiracy theories and to muddle perceptions. In Washington, DC, a campaign to brand COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" is being led by President Donald Trump himself. This story has grown into a debate about competing ideologies - a global one, played out through the news media - of what the world will look like once the pandemic is over - and which political system, which superpower - will be best placed to lead. Contributors: Mark Galeotti - principal director, Mayak Intelligence and author of We Need to Talk about Putin Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian - China reporter, Axios Emerson Brooking - resident fellow, DFR Lab and author of The Like War: The Weaponization of Social Media On our radar: Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Flo Phillips about the COVID-19 emergency laws that are threatening press freedom worldwide. 1918 to COVID-19: 100 years of covering pandemics How should authorities respond to COVID-19, and what role should the media play? From the beginning of the outbreak, historians have looked to the past for valuable lessons learned - most notably, to the so-called Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. John Barry is an American historian and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. The Listening Post's Nic Muirhead interviews Barry on the role the media played in 1918; how news organisations, through self-censorship and misinformation, helped spread the virus, and how we are seeing some disturbing parallels in the coverage of COVID-19 today. Contributor: John M Barry - author of The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


The geopolitical battle for the COVID-19 narrative | The Listening Post (Full)
Apr 04 2020 26 mins  
On The Listening Post this week: From China to the US, the COVID-19 battle is as much medical as it is media. Plus, lessons from the coverage of the 1918 Spanish flu. The geopolitical battle for the COVID-19 narrative As they have been isolating their populations to keep the coronavirus contained, some powerful governments are simultaneously waging a worldwide war of perceptions - laying out how the pandemic happened, where the responsibilities lie and which country should lead the fight against it. China is out to shift the narrative from its initially slow response - the way its censors kept a lid on the story - to the collective effort since then to bring down the infection rate. Beijing has also borrowed a page from Moscow's playbook - using mainstream and social media platforms to spread conspiracy theories and to muddle perceptions. In Washington, DC, a campaign to brand COVID-19 the "Chinese virus" is being led by President Donald Trump himself. This story has grown into a debate about competing ideologies - a global one, played out through the news media - of what the world will look like once the pandemic is over - and which political system, which superpower - will be best placed to lead. Contributors: Mark Galeotti - principal director, Mayak Intelligence and author of We Need to Talk about Putin Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian - China reporter, Axios Emerson Brooking - resident fellow, DFR Lab and author of The Like War: The Weaponization of Social Media On our radar: Richard Gizbert speaks to producer Flo Phillips about the COVID-19 emergency laws that are threatening press freedom worldwide. 1918 to COVID-19: 100 years of covering pandemics How should authorities respond to COVID-19, and what role should the media play? From the beginning of the outbreak, historians have looked to the past for valuable lessons learned - most notably, to the so-called Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. John Barry is an American historian and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. The Listening Post's Nic Muirhead interviews Barry on the role the media played in 1918; how news organisations, through self-censorship and misinformation, helped spread the virus, and how we are seeing some disturbing parallels in the coverage of COVID-19 today. Contributor: John M Barry - author of The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


1918 to COVID-19: 100 years of covering pandemics | The Listening Post (Feature)
Apr 05 2020 9 mins  
History has shown, time and again, that the role of the media during a pandemic can be crucial, not only to our understanding of the issues at stake but to our survival as well. John M Barry is an American historian and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History. In an interview with The Listening Post's Nicholas Muirhead, he looks back on how the US media covered the outbreak of Spanish Flu in 1918, how news organisations, through self-censorship and misinformation, helped spread the virus, and how, more than, a century later we are seeing some disturbing parallels in the news coverage today. The Spanish Flu claimed anywhere from 50 to 100 million lives and was spread around the globe, in large part by soldiers returning home from World War I. It was not called the "Spanish Flu" because the first cases were detected in Spain but rather because of how the story was reported. In the countries that were at war, journalists were largely censored and therefore prohibited from covering the true scale of the outbreak. The fear was that news of a deadly disease would damage morale and signal weakness to the enemy. In Spain, which was neutral during the war, journalists were free to report the story, and when King Alfonso XIII caught the virus, it received an enormous amount of publicity. From then on, the pandemic was known as the Spanish Flu. Though the war was coming to an end by the time the disease arrived in the US, the media were still largely self-censoring. For instance, in Philadelphia, when the biggest parade in the city's history was planned to celebrate the end of the war, the medical community warned journalists it should be cancelled. Barry told Muirhead: "Reporters were writing stories, editors were killing the stories." The parade went ahead, attended by hundreds of thousands of people, and 48 hours later (the typical incubation period of influenza) people started falling ill. "The disease really exploded in the city," Barry said adding, "and that happened to be one of the hardest-hit cities in the country, if not the world." When news of the coronavirus outbreak first started circulating in the US, President Donald Trump largely downplayed the severity of the outbreak. He told Americans the disease would disappear and his administration had everything under control. Those talking points were largely mirrored in the coverage on Fox News, the most-watched TV channel in the country. Barry is reluctant to call the rhetoric coming out of either the White House or Fox News outright lies, as it was in 1918. However, with the benefit of hindsight, he now has one simple message to governments trying to contain the outbreak and journalists trying to cover it: "Telling the truth bluntly and transparently, letting people know what they can expect as truthfully as we know it, will only help us deal with it." Sometimes it helps to look back to know the best way forward. Produced by: Nicholas Muirhead Contributor: John M Barry - Author, The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Coronavirus: Tracking the Outbreak, or Spying on People? | The Listening Post (Full)
Mar 28 2020 24 mins  
A note for our viewers: The COVID-19 pandemic is a news story like no other, and as life as we know it grinds to a halt, The Listening Post team - like so many journalists across the globe - have put this week’s show together from home. We will get better at it! On The Listening Post this week: In the race to protect public health, are governments harming privacy rights? Plus, in the US, coronavirus misinformation comes from the top - President Trump. Coronavirus: Tracking the Outbreak, or Spying on People? In the worldwide battle against COVID-19 - more governments are looking at our phones to track the infected and to prevent the virus from spreading. China, South Korea, Israel, Italy and others are using phone location software, along with CCTV video and credit card records, among other tools, to do that. Governments are understandably eager to use every weapon at their disposal in this fight and phone tracking has already proven effective in some places - such as China. But these measures come with all kinds of questions on finding the right balance between the need for public safety and the individual's right to privacy. Another question worth asking: How long do the authorities intend to keep digging into our phones? Political leaders everywhere are likening the COVID-19 fight to a war and it would not be the first time that extraordinary security measures - imposed during a time of war - proved permanent and problematic. Contributors: Michael Birnhack - Professor of Law, University of Tel Aviv Albert Fox Cahn - Executive Director, STOP (Surveillance Technology Oversight Project) Alexandrine Pirlot de Corbion - Director of Strategy, Privacy International Jung Won Sonn - Associate Professor, UCL Deadly Disinformation: COVID-19 in Trump's America As this pandemic spreads, news consumers are searching far and wide for information that they can rely on. But what if two of your primary news sources - the government and the most-watched TV news channel - are setting aside medical science in favour of politically-driven fiction? That is what Americans have been dealing with. The stream of misinformation flowing from the White House has misled the public on the severity of the threat and put American lives at risk. And that is why one US radio network has already decided it will no longer broadcast President Trump's daily briefings live - television news networks are debating internally whether they should do the same. However, that is not even a question at Fox News - the channel that is ideologically aligned with the president. While it has gradually changed its tone on the coronavirus story - no longer describing it as some politically driven hoax - Fox still largely toes the line set by the White House. The stakes are high, but it is clear that President Trump and Fox News are in this together, come what may. Contributors: Charles Seife - Professor of Health Journalism, NYU Kayla Gogarty - Senior Researcher, Media Matters for America Caleb Ecarma - Writer, Vanity Fair Joanne Kenen - Executive Health Editor, Politico - Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe - Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish - Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera - Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/


Megaphone: amplifying voices from Lebanon’s uprising | The Listening Post (Feature)
Mar 23 2020 10 mins  
From a nondescript residential block in downtown Beirut, Jean Kassir and his journalistic collective - Megaphone - are producing some of the most dynamic journalism of Lebanon's five-month uprising. In a media landscape dominated by partisan journalism, Megaphone has become a trusted source for its critical take on the news and slick content that has outmatched its more established rivals. "The majority of our team are volunteers. Many come to work with us after they have finished their day shift," Kassir told The Listening Post's Tariq Nafi. "The revolution was a major turning point. We used to produce two videos a month; during the first month of the revolution, we started producing two or three videos a day. Some on the team would work daily from noon until three or four in the morning. It is something I think we will never again experience in our lives." The uprising has brought together a cross-section of Lebanese society in a revolt against a political system defined by sectarian identity, which has failed to provide even the most basic services. It has also revealed much about the shortcomings of Lebanon's media outlets - too many of which are skewing their coverage - since they are split along the same lines as politicians. "Given that the media is, by and large, run by politicians, political parties or businessmen with political ambitions, they have of course played a very important role in helping the elite reshape themselves," journalist Kareem Chehayeb told us. "They've done so by trying to rebrand a lot of these politicians as reformists who have been obstructed by their political rivals." In Lebanon, just 12 families - most of them directly involved in politics - control close to 50 percent of the media. The remaining 50 percent of outlets are run by political parties or the state. With so many media outlets so compromised by their ownership, journalism that confronts Lebanon's ruling elite is more necessary than ever. "It is very difficult for one to think about political change, without a fundamental change to people's source of information," says Kassir. "When journalism confronts and challenges the various official narratives put forward by the sects or the parties or the factions, then we can actually change the rules of the game in this country. So it is not a detail – the media is a fundamental pillar in this process, whose role is to deconstruct a regime that has lasted too long and cost the country too much." Contributors: Jean Kassir - Managing Editor, Megaphone Jamal Saleh - Creative Director, Megaphone Kareem Chehayeb - Co-founder, The Public Source Jad Abou Jaoudeh - Head of News, OTV


1 • 1 Ratings

Fearg May 08 2020
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